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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)

Building Peruvian capacity for monitoring and modeling the effects of climate change on the Coropuna Glacier and associated watersheds in Arequipa, Peru  

PIs: Roberto Zegarra Balcazar and Felio Carderon La Torre, (former PIs Karen Kraft and Julio F. Alegría), Asociacion Especializada para el Desarrollo Sostenible (AEDES)
U.S. Partners:  Joerg Schaefer, Columbia University, and Gordon Bromley, University of Maine
Project Dates: June 2012 - April 2015

Project Overview

Peru is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to the dependence of 70 percent of its population on glaciers for dry season water; however, Peru lacks an integral vision that builds climate change resilience by linking investigation, local knowledge, and decision-making. In this project, AEDES is partnering with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University with the goal of building Peru´s capacity for monitoring and modeling local climate change in its Pacific Basin. The objectives of this capacity building project are to (1) improve data collection and analysis through practical training, (2) foster knowledge and data exchanges between national and international scientists, and (3) contribute to more robust modeling of Coropuna-vicinity climate change scenarios. This project will facilitate quality data collection by local researchers that contributes to local models that should help decision makers to better prepare themselves for changing climate conditions.
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Monitoring campaign of the southern front of Coropuna. Photo courtesy of Dr. Julio Alegria.
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 Installation of wooden stakes in the axis of the glacier. Photo courtesy of Dr. Julio Alegria.

To achieve their objectives, these researchers will carry out a series of j
oint data collection and field-based training during the summers of 2012 and 2013 and will maintain periodic monitoring of glacier mass at two sites and of hydrological data in two sub-basins. A highlight of the project will be the installation of a new weather and hydrology station installed on Coropuna, which should enhance data accuracy. The project will also provide support for the thesis research and training of two Peruvian master's degree students. One workshop will be organized on climate change, glaciers, and hydrology in the southern Andes, and another training workshop on climate change modeling will be conducted. Overall, i
t is expected that the U.S.-based researchers involved will benefit from improved logistical support and an expanded field season, while the Peruvian investigators will gain from improved precision in data collection and analysis, knowledge of international research results, and enhanced ability to model climate change scenarios. The project should also provide the international research and policy community with vital information for understanding the sensitivity of tropical glaciers in Peru´s highly valued freshwater reservoirs to climate warming.
Summary of Recent Activities
During the winter of 2014 the team executed its annual field monitoring work with the cooperation of the Glaciology Unit of the National Water Agency. This time, the northern and southern flanks of Coropuna Mountain were surveyed. A second visit to the area of study (Coropuna and Solimana glaciers) with the students from the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina in Lima (UNALM) to learn about field techniques in hydrology and glacial studies is planned. This will prove beneficial for the two dissertation topics being developed by UNALM students who visit the work area, collect information, and conduct laboratory work.

Please see for SENAMHI’s announcement (in Spanish) and photograph of the station and team members and for a sample of Peruvian press coverage of the event (also in Spanish). A brief video about the installation is available at

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AEDES technical team performing fieldwork in Tuailqui Glacier, south flank of Coropuna, December 2013. Photo courtesy of Dr. Julio Alegria
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Installing wooden stakes in Maukallaqta Glacier, north flank of Coropuna. Photo courtesy of Dr. Julio Alegria.

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